The impacts of illegal mining on Africa and economies around the world over the years have been abysmal and as such have merited calls for stringent measures to dissuade its participants. With roughly about 14000 persons appraised to be involved in illegal mining in Africa (Mining Africa, 2017), its impact has traveled from environmental to financial, upsetting budgets and fiscal forecasts of many nations considering the fact that numerous efforts and resources go into combating it. For instance, it was assessed to cost South Africa nearly 2.7billion USD to securely restore its abandoned mines to avert unlawful access. This is a nation where illegal mining is believed to be costing the economy about USD 550 million per anum aside its social and environmental perils (The South African Institute of International Affairs, 2014). Identified to have been razing Africa’s continent for era’s , illegal mining is not only unsafe from only a well-being viewpoint for its partakers, but also emboldens thoughtless conducts which leads to endings with long-term destructive consequences on citizens and economies at large (Greentumble, 2017).
In Ghana, we call it “Galamsey”, acknowledged to have been originated from the expression “gather them and sell” as far back in the colonial epoch (Owusu Nimo et al. 2018). Over the years, its undulating consequence on the Ghanaian economy has been so awful warranting calls for a nationwide schema to war it in recent times. Even The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo – Addo is on record to have said before and after been elected to combat Galamsey even if it would cost him his presidency (Myjoyonline, 2017; Citinews, 2021). In the midst of all efforts made by government, the war against Galamsey seems to be lost as many high profile persons have been purported to be involved (Newsghana, 2017; Myjoyonline,2022). Even the 2023 budget and economic plan for the nation read on the 24th of November, 2022 captured no governmental strategies to combat illegal mining. With the Ghanaian economy in crisis and many reasons cited for our current predicament, nothing has so far been said about Galamsey as part of the causes, considering the monies been lost by way of tax leakages and even the cost of fighting it or most importantly viewing this menace holistically beyond the its environmental impacts but as an Economic Crisis in its own form. It should be noted that economic crises is not only monetary but a display of some problems being it governmental, societal, ecological, times of tension or distresses, eras of truncated outputs resulting to insolvency and or job losses (Doinita CAZAN and Alina Florentina, 2013). In lieu of this, the canker Galamsey is another form of grave economic crisis the country is facing and hence the need to put all its destructive effects into perspective to get serious with the fight against it as a country.
I would commence my postmortem into the effects of Galamsey with that on the environmental economy of Ghana. This seems to be the most known among citizens due to the pollution of river bodies in mining communities and adjoining environs. The level of this peril has risen to the stage where the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana once predicted that Ghana may import water in the future following the shutdown of some water treatment plants due to the untreatable nature of the waters (Citifmonline, 2017; Business & Financial Times Online, 2022). This means operations and productivity of the Ghana Water Company Limited in these areas are also adversely affected, depriving the nation of revenues from bills that could have been paid by citizens to fund its operations. Destruction of water bodies affects aqua life of fishes and the many edible species in our rivers, makes it impossible for farming and livestock rearing activities in these communities, totally cutting any food supply from these areas to the national grid. In the long run, the public purse suffers as state funds would have to be allocated to plant trees and treat water to be drinkable for citizens, individuals would have to import water and fish from abroad, affecting growth of our economy and devaluing the strength of our currency (Ghanaweb, 2021).
Shifting from the environment, the expansive impact of Galamsey ecologically is a very essential topic that deserves much attention. This focus swings the dialogue from productivity and growth to sustainability and development to improve the financial resources of the country. Sustainability is understood to have both environmental and social components. Sustainability in this regard asserts that the environment ought to be well-looked-after so as not to emasculate the capacity of forthcoming generations to enjoy a decent life (Bartosz Bartkowski, 2016). The question we ask here is whether or not sustainable development can be achieved if Galamsey should continue? Is the environment preserved by way of this act for future generations? Deforestation, eco-friendly dilapidation, species extinction are some of the effects to be suffered from this act and this goes a long way to affect survival adversely, considering the fact that the human economy is embedded in nature (Ehrlich & Ehrlich, 2008).This bring to bear the fright it poses globally as far as climate change and its threats to humanity is concerned (International Council on Mining & Metals, 2019). For instance in Madagascar, deforestation ensuing from illegal mining activities has affected the country badly therefore increasing its vulnerability to the effects of climate change and the widespread of drought and famine (Africannews, 2021).
Another catastrophic consequence of Galamsey to the Ghanaian economy is that on health. This not only bothers health of the partakers of illegal mining but also health care structures and the prudent apportionment of health care in our dear country Ghana. Just as GDP, healthcare and lifespan expectancy influences a country’s development making it understandable that, a resourceful and an unswerving healthcare system, coupled with a healthy workforce is crucial to instituting a respectable economy in any given state (Sanjay Das, 2019). Water bodies around these sites have been tested to be polluted with mercury or cyanide which is harmful to human consumption with some side effects even been delayed into the future. Mercury and cyanide, either separately or in combination, also affects the cognitive development of children living nearby mining areas in their intellectual capabilities, acquisition and development of academic knowledge, skills in problem solving and dispositions (Kwame Asiedu Sarpong, 2022). This implies that not only is the Ghanaian economy been deprived of its youthful workforce required to build a strong and working economy presently but also generations. It is hence vital to note as a nation that, as long as Galamsey lingers, the economy in the long run will be in crisis. End of Part 1
Africannews, (2021). Illegal mining and deforestation increase pressure on Madagascar: https://www.africanews.com/2021/11/12/illegal-mining-and-deforestation-increase-pressure-on-madagascar/
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Business & Financial Times Online, (2022). 50% of GWCL treated water wasted due to Galamsey activities. https://thebftonline.com/2022/10/11/50-of-gwcl-treated-water-wasted-due-to-galamsey-activities/
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